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Glass – A Material of Future

By: Bruno Mauvernay | Posted on: Thursday September 12, 2019

Saint Gobain Glass 

Saint-Gobain founded in 1665, has developed into providing high performing and innovative glass solutions: products, services and systems, helping to create great living places and improve daily life.

In an interview with Window & Façade Magazine, Bruno Mauvernay Chief Operating Officer of Saint-Gobain Glass Exprover shared his views on the scenario of glass industry in the Middle East. He also talked about the plans of Saint-Gobain for the coming years. Here are the excerpts from the interview…

Please Elaborate on the Innovations you have made in Latest Architectural Projects you have Undertaken?

We feel privileged to be part of an industry which challenges us daily to deliver improved performance, design and service. We play our part in designing some of the world’s most iconic architectural projects, offering a wide range of innovative glazing solutions for façades.

Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion - Glass Panels
Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion

One of our projects is Quai Ouest, located in a busy road in Paris suburbs and is highly exposed to traffic noise. Major restructuring and renovation works have been undertaken and the building has now a Saint-Gobain Double Skin Façade with Contour Stadip Protect solar.

This way, Quai Ouest is now a part of the modern architectural landscape with its wide façade of 150 meters and also provides better acoustic and thermal comforts for its occupants. High performances which have led to the triple certification: HQE Excellent, BREEAM Very Good and BBC-Energie Renovation.

Producing and installing over length glass panels with formats from 6 up to 18 x 3.21 meters are now possible. It opens up entirely new creative possibilities for construction actors who dream big.

The Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion is a contemporary, light-filled space, surrounded by views of the Michener Art Museum galleries. Located in Pennsylvania, in the USA, it was designed by the internationally recognised Philadelphia-based architecture firm Kieran Timberlake. Saint-Gobain supplied SGG overlength glass panels, of 7 meters high.

This custom made glass panels were designed to create a thin transparent wall with minimal joints. In other words, resulting in increased levels of more daylight, less restricted views and less construction.

What are the Latest Technologies in Glass that are Developed through Saint Gobain R&D Development Center?

Designing innovative, high performance products and solutions to improve our habitat and everyday life is at the heart of Saint-Gobain’s strategy. This is a responsibility for the Group’s teams, as well as a major source of motivation.

Through their innovations, the teams contribute to reducing the environmental impacts of buildings, processes and the development of new high-performance solutions.

Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion : Saint Gobain Glass Projects Edgar N. Putman Event Pavilion | Architect: Kieran Timberlake

In the glass segment, Saint-Gobain has moved forward with the improvement of its COOL-LITE SKN® range to achieve the neutrality & grey appearance while keeping its superior thermal and solar control properties.

COOL-LITE SKN 133 II, COOL-LITE SKN 183 II, COOL-LITE XTREME 70/33 II are the latest “to be toughened or heat strengthened” products that need to be insulated in a double-glazed unit (coating on face 2).

What Strategies is Saint Gobain Implementing to Ensure continuous Product Development?

The materials science, the industrial processes understanding and the implementation of relevant tests to validate and optimize the performance of products in their end application play an integral part in our expertise. We focus on what our customers want, we develop with them and for them the most adapted solutions at each step of the research project.

New scientific profiles join our team in research centers: designers, data scientists, and sociologist. They bring new approach such as design thinking, new product development, systems and services. As these aspects truly matters to Saint-Gobain, we keep on promoting awareness and training teams in R&D and marketing to the importance of eco-innovation.

During the entire course of the project, we highly consider the development of new sustainable solutions and improvement of existing solutions in areas such as health and well-being, energy and climate, water, resources and circular economy.

What are Saint Gobain ’s Future Expansion Plans?

New Saint Gobain head office in Paris
New Saint Gobain Head Office in Paris | Architect: DR Valode & Pistre Architectes

Saint-Gobain increases its production capacity in emerging countries. The group opened a new flat glass production line on January 2019 in India located in near Chennai, at a ceremony attended by Pierre- André de Chalendar, the CEO of Saint-Gobain.

This new state-of-the-art facility was built within the Saint-Gobain World Glass Complex, a 70-hectare industrial site which already includes two floats, two coaters, advanced glass processing units for the construction industry, fire safety and the automotive industry (Sekurit), as well as a mirror line.

In Saltillo, Mexico, a new flat glass (float) production line is being built. This plant, scheduled to come on stream at the beginning of 2020, will manufacture glass for the automotive and construction sectors. It will meet the growing domestic demand and supply Central America, the Caribbean and North America. It will complement its manufacturing base in the region with the Cuautla site, which was inaugurated earlier this year, the first jumbo coater of Saint-Gobain in Mexico.

In Colombia, Vidrio Andino will build a new float to meet growing demand of glass in this region. The float will be located near the city of Barranquilla, on the Caribbean Sea, and will offer a solid manufacturing base for domestic and export markets. Initial production is planned for 2021.

Saint-Gobain is already operating one float in Colombia, in Soacha, near Bogota. All these investments are in line with the group’s strategy of expanding its presence in emerging countries and an excellent opportunity to consolidate and strengthen Saint Gobain ’s longterm position in these regions.

What do you See as the Main Challenges Faced by Glass Industry?

In a context of climate change, rapid urbanisation and high demographic growth, the glass industry needs to invest to find new ways to use glass, make new products, better recycling, better the energy efficiencies of the producing sites and improve the overall performance across the product life cycle.

Saint-Gobain, for a long time, has been committed to limiting the effects of climate change through its solutions.

These are very important to ensure competitiveness in the region and to satisfy the needs of the consumers in terms of quality, performance, design and environment friendly materials. Building regulations are in place in most of the region, however in some places they need to be implemented effectively.

What are the Changes have you seen in Façade Designing over the Years in terms of Role of Glass?

With the development of high performance glass solutions, architects and consultants could use glass for designing curtain walls fully glazed while ensuring a high level of comfort. The glass has then become a major element of the building aesthetics.

Pulled by regulations and industry innovation, all the different aspects of the comfort inside the building were considered when choosing the glass, including visual, thermal and acoustic comforts. Over the years, its role has been expanded to include more aspects of the building design.

In contemporary architecture, transparent building envelopes have become increasingly popular, and over length panes support this creative feature particularly effectively. Over length from Saint-Gobain is the new glazing range up to 18m in length and 3.21m wide.

We also have dynamic glass (SAGEGLASS) being widely used and popular among the architects, which can change its tint and solar factor depending on the lux levels outside, eliminating the use of blinds and helping you enjoy the view!

What is your View on the Future Facade and Fenestration Technologies?

Today’s architects and builders are increasingly focused on how to create structures that have less impact on the natural environment. One of the trends is climate-responsive architecture which is a design practice centered on creating buildings that function in lockstep with the local climate, not in spite of it.

The goal of climate-responsive architecture is to create a comfortable interior while reducing the building’s reliance on artificial energy. The design utilises data on the region’s weather patterns and accounts for factors like seasonality, intensity of the sun, wind, rainfall and humidity.

Sage Glass HQ - Saint Gobain Glass Sage Glass HQ | Architect: I & S Engineers & Architects

The building envelope is an important mediator between the indoor and outdoor conditions. Envelopes in different climate zones require different assemblies to minimise unwanted energy loss. Smart glazing systems, offer opportunities to further the practice. SAGEGLASS – our electrochromic glass actively controls how much solar light and heat transfer into an interior space.

How to you See the Scope and Usage of Glass in the Middle East?

The construction market is still performing in the region, especially in the United Arab Emirates. The growth in the sector is at a high level as the demand is improving in the perspective of Expo 2020. The Dubai government invested in infrastructures to welcome this very special event. Architectural projects are under construction and require large quantity of glass.

Glass is a material which is appreciated by architects in the region because of the various aesthetics and high performances it provides.

Is the Glass industry in the UAE / Middle East bound by any Rules & Regulations?

In order to tend towards more sustainable buildings, regulation has been put in place in the UAE through certification programs. There are three main programs implemented: ESTIDAMA in Abu Dhabi, Al’Safat in Dubai and the newly launched Barjeel in Ras Al Khaimah.

These programs ensure that a minimum set of specifications and guidelines are used for the buildings. In the case of the building envelope, it has implemented requirements on its thermal performance. As a consequence for the glass industry, builders have to use high performing glass and suppliers had to develop specific solutions to meet these requirements.

These green building regulations have pulled the market towards the high added value products and solutions.

What is your Advice for Young and Upcoming Architects?

Use more and more glass, of course! Glass is a beautiful green building material and it is also the material of the future. The possibilities with glass are numerous, it is a key element in architecture and buildings. Glass transmits, reflects and absorbs light; making it the only building material which can be transparent, translucent and also a structural element.

Bruno Mauvernay

Chief Operating Officer

Bruno Mauvernay is the Chief Operating Officer of Saint-Gobain Glass Exprover. Created in 1962, Glass Exprover is Saint-Gobain Glass’ export business unit. Glass Exprover provides the full Saint-Gobain Flat Glass range of both basic glass and processed products, coming from the group’s different factories worldwide. Having completed his PhD on infrared detection, Bruno Mauvernay started his career in Saint-Gobain group as a Research Engineer, he was in charge of solar control glazing product development. After a few years, he joined the central marketing team and is still working closely with the research department. He served different positions at European and worldwide level. In 2017, he became North America Sales Director and participated actively in the development of this market.

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